Changing The Status Quo – Part III

sunrise-in-the-mountains

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

“Each day begins with the glorious rising of the sun – no matter what changes may lie ahead.”

Part I gave rise to many comments, most of which stated how laws are often unfair. Although Part II didn’t spark as many comments, (Click here to read it) there was one in particular which inspired the writing of Part III. The entire comment consisted of 2 words and one symbol: Money = Laws.

Knowing this person for only a couple of years, I believe the intent of comment was to be cynical in nature and not stated as an immutable fact. Unfortunately that comment rings true far too often for too many people. The world though is ripe for change. It’s time that the “Status Quo” become “Status Mo” which is to imply Movement or Motivation.

This action, however, is not a call to spark a revolution so much as it is an appeal to look within ourselves and see what we can do individually to promote justice and seek that which in the words of King Hammurabi, call us to “further the well-being of mankind” and “that the strong should  not harm the weak”.

But what can one person do to counter against a powerful political machine which buys law makers and those adjudicating the law? The first thing we can do is see whether or not we are guilty of similar actions only on a smaller scale. Do we despise the behaviors of others but allow exceptions for ourselves because it is much less significant?

The biggest problem with corruption is not that others need to change their actions, it’s those times when our own integrity is put to the test and we succumb to the lure of easy money or power. The very same action which would be found completely condemned in others is conveniently overlooked because it works to our advantage. We must be strong and resist corruption at every level; not excusing our behavior because everyone else does it.

Secondly, when others appear to “win” by twisting laws, they should not be lauded but rather we should deplore their actions and outcome. Being guilty of these seemingly minor offenses only encourages this egregious behavior. Accepting a bribe of sort, no matter how small, continues this cycle with our blessing. Even by simply turning our heads and keeping our mouths closed perpetuates corruptness in the system.

This by no means is a simple task and there isn’t one answer for every situation. The best solution is first to alter that which we have the power to do and as Gandhi so eloquently stated, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”.

Without a doubt there are times when a revolution may be the only solution for a “Status Mo” but in the meantime, each one of us can have our own transformation by living above the corruption and not glorifying or emulating those who do.

Thanks as always and I look forward to your comments.

 

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The Rule of Law Part II

Magna Cartal

The Great Seal of King John attached to the Canterbury Magna Carta. Photo Courtesy of the British Library*

“Laws are needed to resolve disputes however, they can never resolve the willful misappropriation of those who wrote them.”

In last week’s post, the principles behind why laws are made were discussed (click here to read Part I). In any civil society laws are vital in maintaining  social order, settling disputes, or other perceived inequities. Although at times laws may appear to be a nuisance, their original purpose was meant to protect. For those who live in a free society, logic would dictate the fewer laws, the better. However, as our world becomes more interconnected and complex, the number of laws increases along with their complexity and intricacy.

The irony about many laws is that a useful way to undo or change those which are seemingly unfair, is to break them in an act of civil disobedience. Whether it is a “sit-in” style of protest or something more overt such as the forced signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, change requires some course of action. However, there is always a risk that unsuccessful attempts may lead to lengthy, punitive sentences or even death. Men and women alike have used many forms of rebellion to bring fairness and equity to “The Rule Of Law”.

The remaining question, which no doubt King Hammurabi himself asked, is how do laws get enacted that not only further the well-being of its citizens and “so that the strong should not harm the weak”? Each time a new country attempts to establish a constitution or any body of laws, undoubtedly it is begun with the best of intentions. Even the U.S., which claims to have one of the longest and fairest systems, allows for amendments to be made because the original authors understood that circumstances can change and there is always room for improvement.

Living in a society where everything was one hundred percent fair and equitable would be ideal but those only exist in fairy tales. Throughout countless stories of human history, many of them portray accounts of one person or group taking away the liberties of another.  One so-called “civilization” enslaving those from a different one; ultimately causing some type of war or devastation all because of some inequity in the current “Rule Of Law”.

A good way to maintain any type of civility in a society is to work together for its common good. But this requires that our egos and self-interests follow that guideline as well. Many situations where laws are being changed, unfortunately are quite the opposite and work to shift the balance of power in favor of a particular group or individual. The goal of which, is NOT to “to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak……and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.”

Fairness and equity work better when they are common goals in society. But putting aside one’s ego for a greater and more mutual outcome is not an easy task. Because we are human and have the ability to make our own decisions and choose our priorities, there will always be a need for laws to resolve these disputes.

Thank you for the great comments from the last post and I hope to read many more again. The discussion very well may lead to Part III!

*Photo is courtesy of the British Law Library; online at:  http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/

The Rule of Law

Code

The Code of Hammurabi

“When the rule of law works against its own people, it no longer continues to work.”

The Code of Hammurabi is the oldest and most complete tablet containing civil laws as well as forms of punishments that have yet been discovered. While it contains some edicts which today’s society would find primitive and harsh, it begins with an interesting premise. The preamble states, among other ideas,” to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak……and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.”*

The words above in bold, particularly caught my attention because it seems this is not the case in many of today’s systems of government. Although our world is certainly a more complex society than what Hammurabi faced nearly 4 millennia ago, it too, was much easier for him or other rulers to usurp control and enslave civilizations had they so wished. Yet even he found it important to enact legislation prohibiting some from deliberately taking advantage of the inhabitants of Mesopotamia.

Laws are ubiquitous and found in all aspects of life. Many are simply based on common sense. Mathematics has several such as the commutative law (A+B= B+A). Nature has created her own set of laws from the simple to the complex. In order to better understand how they work, scientists have been studying them from the moment humans developed intelligence. Civil law must have begun when our ancestors felt it necessary to form a community and have reasonable ways to settle disputes.

Unfortunately, it has become a more common practice for some who study the law, to learn how to skirt it and at times use it in an unfair advantage for them and those they represent. Even being praised at times for how they were able to twist it into something completely different from its original intention.

Undoubtedly laws are important and in a free society, it would make sense that fewer laws would allow more freedoms. However, when the authors of those laws purposely write loopholes and ambiguities into them, it certainly leaves opportunity for the “strong to harm the weak”.

Imagine for a moment that you were sitting on the Babylonian throne 4000 years ago and felt compelled to decree a rule of law; what would be some of your thoughts and intentions? Would you work to undo everything that great leaders did before you or would you seek to learn from theirs and others’ wisdom? Would you proclaim laws that would “enlighten the land” or would they be skewed toward bestowing you more power?  It will be quite interesting and I am certainly looking forward to your thoughts and comments and perhaps putting them together for a “Part Two”

*Excerpts from the Avalon project, Yale Law School translated by L.W. King

Posting My Thoughts

 

HJ

The “Big Boss”

“Critics can be found anywhere but most of the time, a little kindness is what’s truly needed.”

Many of you know my friend Helen S also known as the “Big Boss”. She and her husband own and run a restaurant which honors their proud heritage. Many items from the menu are dishes based on memories from her childhood. You’d be hard-pressed to find better food anywhere in the UK but what get the patrons to return is Helen’s incredible personality and charm. No matter what kind of day she is having, everyone is greeted by her smile.

However, there is nothing on this planet Helen loves more than her daughter, Maria. She often posts pictures of the two of them and like her mother, even when Maria is not feeling well, she always sports a huge smile; one that even surpasses her mother’s!

Maria is 26 years old and was born with a condition that has affected her mental capacity so that she requires constant care, from which Helen has never – and will never – shy away. Raising a family with two older boys was no small feat and she wondered at times if she was paying too much attention to Maria and not enough to her boys. Fortunately, she was assured by both of them told her how proud they were of her and what she did for Maria was incredibly admirable.

Most of us have no idea the dedication and sacrifice it takes to raise a child with such needs. However, what is difficult to understand is why at times, when she posts pictures of her beautiful daughter, some people leave demeaning and negative comments. If you are offended by someone’s love for their child to the point where you must blatantly object, that would indicate that you are the person who really needs the help.

Social media has become an easy platform where many can now “speak out” and feel they are becoming stronger by “telling it like it is”. However, voicing your opinion in such a manner is no a show of strength but rather an act of cowardice. Taking shots at a defenseless person may work in a comedy act or a scripted “reality TV” show but it is certainly not the sign of a decent and caring human being.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t agree with everything Helen posts but there is no compulsion to write about it. Showing restraint and discretion is a far better attribute than spreading negativity and malice. This is an unfortunate sign of our times where we are constantly barraged with supposed “leaders” using this type of rhetoric to show their power. But instead, it invites divisiveness, exclusivity, and hatred rather than a uniting and empowering those whom they lead. It is easy to be critical but criticism becomes hard when you aspire to be kind. Kindness is what this world needs more and that happens one human being at a time.

Thanks to Helen and Maria. Please feel free to disagree with me and state your reasons but do not write anything derogatory about Helen or Maria. Thank you.

 

 

A Taste of My Own Medicine

Nicole“What good is your word when you don’t follow your own advice?”

Even before last week’s article was posted, I was blindsided by this week’s topic. A very good friend of mine, Nicole Tiffany Cruz, posted her first of 10 vlogs and it didn’t take long before the subject matter clubbed me over the head. Had it been anyone else speaking the exact same words I would have discontinued watching it. But not Nicole. Although she is young enough to be my daughter, I greatly admire her opinion and have hired her on several occasions as a consultant. There was no way I couldn’t hear her out.

Nicole is an incredible young lady who is a fitness and nutrition coach and does business consulting as well. Recently, she developed a unique program called “The Super Busy Mommy Workout” which offers creative solutions for busy moms – and dads for that matter – designed to help you integrate a hectic parenting schedule with exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The video came across my timeline and I immediately hit “play”.  After a brief introduction, she first grabbed my attention by saying, “Many well-meaning life coaches use this approach but I want to challenge it a bit”. I was ready to pile on with her but next she said, “It is the idea that if you really want to do something, you’ll make the time for it”.

Now this may not seem like a big deal but I frequently use this expression or a similar version thereof and there she was questioning one of my go-to slogans. I immediately wanted to know her reasoning behind it.

She softened the blow somewhat by saying this was generally a true statement then continued to explain why great care is needed to be taken before using it as a motivational tool. Sometimes in an attempt to inspire, the line between motivation, guilt and/or shame is a very thin one and what could be meant as inspiration for some may elicit the opposite effect for others.

Some of you may know that my Twitter handle is Shamedoctor1 which in short, means helping others heal from past shame. The last thing I would ever want to do is use a shaming technique while attempting to help someone but here was my friend indirectly challenging my often-used expression.

It is interesting how my ego initially wanted to dismiss it but I continued. Moving forward, this expression won’t be eliminated from my repertoire but I will think twice before I blurt it out and be prudent with its use. Motivation pushes your client to reach beyond what they believe their own potential is but there is an enormous difference between inspiration and humiliation.

No matter how many people we help transform their own lives, let us never forget that we also are a work in progress. Growth is not something we simply teach. It is also something which our lives reflect. Thank you Nicole Cruz. You can watch the video and find out more about her and the “Super Busy Mommy Workout” by clicking here. I look forward to your comments.